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Good morning, Kossacks. I know that times are hard and that many members of our community are struggling to make ends meet. However, as we enter the Thanksgiving holiday week we are asking you to consider making a small donation to Feeding America, America's largest domestic hunger relief charity. Each year, Feeding America provides food to more than 25 million hungry Americans, including 9 million children and 3 million senior citizens. This weekend, Feeding America is running a pre-holiday drive to collect enough money for 9 million meals. Proctor and Gamble is matching all donations, so your money will go twice as far in helping the hungry this winter. If you donate here, Proctor and Gamble will match you.

I want to start the ball rolling, so I will donate ten cents for each recommendation and 5 cents for each comment in this diary. Please follow me below the fold, and I will tell you more about hunger in the suburbs and the food drive for this weekend.

As you all know, we are experiencing unemployment rates that have not been seen since the early 1980s. "Food insecurity" or hunger is increasing, not just in American's poorest neighborhoods, but in formerly middle-class areas as well. Here are a few stories from New York and New Jersey.

Last month, Newsday published a story on the growing need for free and reduced-price school lunches in suburban Long Island:

An analysis of 29 school districts responding to a Newsday survey found the number of students in free and reduced-price meal programs has increased even as enrollments have dropped. Overall, nearly 16 percent more children are in such programs this year than four years ago.

The trend has been most pronounced in middle and upper-middle class districts over the past two years, as the recession hammered the local economy, causing job losses or reduced income.

The statistics from my home town are frightening. Since 2007-08, the number of students qualifying for free and reduced lunches in the Three Village School District (Stony Brook and Setauket) has increased by 30%!

The situation in suburban New Jersey is just as dire. The Crisis Ministry is the largest food pantry in the Mercer County region.

[T]he Trenton ministry is serving 40 percent more households through its Hanover Street office [in Trenton] than a year ago at this time, and the Princeton ministry, at the Nassau Street Presbyterian Church, is serving 50 percent more.

That means about 1,350 households in the Trenton and Princeton area have come for assistance each month, representing about 3,000 individuals, of whom about 1,000 are children.... The median monthly income of families who seek food assistance is $980 per month. ~source

Since the election of 2008, the organization that was Mercer4Obama has been running a series of food drives at supermarkets in the greater Mercer County area to support the Crisis Ministry. In the past 7 months, we have collected over 33.8 tons of food. However, this is just a drop in the bucket. We need to do much more.

As progressives, we know that it is unconscionable that so many people go hungry in the richest country in the history of the world. A report released earlier this week indicated that over 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger this year. That is one in six people in our country. You can help by making a donation to Feeding America. If you donate this weekend, you money will go twice as far to help the hungry this winter.

Donation link: If you donate here, Proctor and Gamble will match you.

This is the first in a series of Feeding America diaries that will be posted over the next 36 hours. The full schedule is here:

Saturday, Nov 21 (all times EST):
11:00a -- blue jersey mom
 2:00p -- Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
 5:00p -- buhdydharma
 8:00p -- JayinPortland
11:00p -- rb137

Sunday, Nov 22 (all times EST):
11:00a -- noweasels
  2:00p -- TheFatLadySings
  5:00p -- Timroff
  8:00p -- teacherken
11:00p -- boatsie

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. Please help make the holidays a little brighter for America's poor. Many thanks for your generosity.

UPDATE: CDH in Brooklyn will also match 10 cents for every rec and 5 sence for every comment.

UPDATE 2: Twilight Falling will also donate 10 cents a rec and 5 cents a comment.

UPDATE 3: Shanikka will also match 10 cents per recommend and 5 cents per comment.

Update 4: PaintyKat will also match, and s/he will match 10 cents per comment.

Originally posted to blue jersey mom on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 07:59 AM PST.

Also republished by DK Feeding America.

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